Divinity in Odd Numbers
Falstaff tells us (in the Merry Wives of Windsor, v. 1)
that this divinity affects “nativity, chance, and death.” A Trinity is
by no means confined to the Christian creed. The Brahmins represent their god with three heads; the Greeks and Romans had three
Graces, three Fates, three Furies, and a
three-fold Hecate. Jupiter had his three thunderbolts, Neptune his
trident, and Pluto his three-headed dog. The Muses were three times
three. Pythagoras says God is threefold—“the beginning, middle, and
end of all things.” Then, again, there are five features, five parts to
the body, five vowels, five lines in music, five acts to a play, etc.;
seven strings to a harp, seven planets (anciently, at any rate), seven
musical notes, etc.
There's luck in odd numbers “Numero Deus impre gaudet” (Virgil: `Eclogue viii. 75). The seventh son of a seventh son was always
held notable. Baalam would have seven altars, and sacrificed on them
seven bullocks and seven rams. Naaman was commanded to dip seven times
in Jordan, and Elijah sent his servant seven times to look out for
rain. Climacteric years are seven and nine with their multiples by odd
The great climacteric year of life is 63 (i.e. 7 × 9), and
Saturn presides over all climacteric years.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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